FSTS 100 smashes 7,500 points breaking an all time high

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Tue, 16 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

The FTSE 100 rose steadily to yet another record high, breaking the symbolically important 7,500 point mark in morning trading as the pound dipped.

The index rose by more than 0.57 per cent at the time of writing to reach 7,505.46 points.

Meanwhile sterling fell below $1.29 against the US dollar despite inflation data overshooting consensus expectations.

London’s blue chip index also benefited from a strong rise from telecoms giant Vodafone despite some big share price falls from some smaller constituents.

Vodafone announced a £5.6bn loss thanks to currency movements, but it also said it would increase earnings next year.

The new high water mark comes after an extraordinary rally in the FTSE 100 over the last 12 months.

The latest leg of the rally has been driven by an improving global outlook, with higher commodity prices in the short term as well as favourable news for growth from the Donald Trump administration in the US.

The index has now rallied by almost 30 per cent from the lows below 5,800 points hit after the EU referendum. That surge was in part caused by the weakness in sterling, which fell sharply against the dollar, increasing the value of UK-listed companies' dollar earnings overnight.

The referendum came at the end of an extended period of weak global growth which saw the FTSE 100 fall to its lowest level since 2012 in February 2016. However, global growth has since picked up, boosting the multinational companies that make up London’s benchmark index.

The rising tide has not been limited to blue chip stocks, with the FTSE all-share index also hitting a fresh record high on Tuesday, continuing a strong rally since the end of 2016 into uncharted territory.

The FTSE 250 index has also hit records as recently as April.

Jasper Jolly

Ford planning a possible cut in 10% of its global workforce

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Tue, 16 May, 2017) London, Uk —

Ford is planning to cut around 10% of its global workforce in an attempt to boost profits, according to reports.
Chief executive officer Mark Fields also wants to arrest the slide in the US car company's share price.
The cuts, first reported in the Wall Street Journal, are part of a plan to save $3bn (£2.3bn) during 2017.
Ford refused to confirm or deny the story, but said in a statement that it was focused on its plans to “drive profitable growth”.
It added: “Reducing costs and becoming as lean and efficient as possible also remain part of that work. We have not announced any new people efficiency actions, nor do we comment on speculation.”
Ford employs around 200,000 people, with half of them in North America.
Leaked document
In March, the carmaker announced that it would spend $1.2bn (£927m) to upgrade three plants in Michigan in the US and create 130 new jobs.
At the start of the year, it cancelled plans to build a new factory in Mexico after pressure from President Trump, who had also criticised General Motors' plans to produce cars there.
The company's share price has fallen by nearly 40% since Mr Fields took up his role in the middle of 2014.
Earlier this year, a leaked document seen by BBC Wales revealed that Ford was projecting a reduction of 1,160 workers at its plant in Bridgend by 2021 if no new projects came into the site.

 

JPMorgan buys 130,000 square foot Dublin office building

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Mon, 15 May, 2017) London, UK —

JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) has agreed to buy a Dublin building with room for 1,000 staff in the first sign of a financial services company expanding significantly in Ireland since the government began a major campaign to attract firms in the wake of Brexit.

The U.S. investment bank will acquire a 130,000 square foot (12,000 square metre) building at the Capital Dock development in Dublin's docklands, the building's developer Kennedy Wilson (KWE.L) said in a statement.

The bank, which currently employs around 500 people in Dublin, did not say how many jobs would be created or whether any positions would be moved from the United Kingdom.

JPMorgan plans to hire a significant number of people in Dublin in its expanding custody and funds services businesses over the next three years, JPMorgan’s head of investor services James Kenny told the Financial Times at the weekend.

The bank has indicated it will use its existing European Union banks, in Dublin, Frankfurt and Luxembourg to anchor its European Union operations after Brexit.

“This new building gives us room to grow and some flexibility within the European Union,” senior country officer for JP Morgan in Ireland Carin Bryans said in the statement.

Ireland has engaged in a major lobbying campaign during the past year to try to convince companies with large bases in the United Kingdom to consider moving some of their staff to Ireland to maintain access to the European Union's single market.

Hubertus Vaeth, the head of Frankfurt's campaign to promote the city to banks since Britain voted to leave the EU, told Reuters earlier this month he expected the five largest U.S. investment banks to move staff to more than one EU location with around 1,000 going to Frankfurt and possibly more to Dublin.

Rivalry between the different EU cities has become acrimonious at times, with Ireland complaining to the European Commission that it is being undercut by predatory behaviour by other centres.

Ireland's financial services minister, Eoghan Murphy, said in a statement on Monday that JPMorgan's announcement was “a welcome vote of confidence in the strength of Ireland's offering and Dublin's status as a major financial centre.”

By Conor Humphries

EUROPOL stunned by wave of cyberattacks

 

Monday may see a resumption of the wave of cyberattacks around the world. That is the warning from computer experts as more and more companies and official bodies release details about how they have been compromised by the ransomware virus, that locks them out of their own systems.

Police and security forces have been overwhelmed by the scale of the attack.

New Walt Disney World Flight of Passage Ride in Pandora

 

Take a walk through the stunningly detailed queue of the new Flight of Passage ride in Pandora – The World of Avatar at Walt Disney World. Watch the full pre-show and step up to the link chairs right before the ride begins.

(Walt Disney World asked that we not record the ride itself.)

BOE states solid economic growth linked to ‘smooth’ Brexit

 

The head of the UK's central bank Mark Carney has said Britain should enjoy solid economic growth through to the end of the decade, but only if the government achieves a smooth departure from the European Union.

The Bank of England (BoE) trimmed its forecast of growth this year to 1.9 percent from 2.0 percent, but nudged up its forecasts for 2018 and 2019 to 1.7 percent and 1.8 percent. Last year Britain's economy grew 1.8 percent.

The head of the UK's central bank Mark Carney has said Britain should enjoy solid economic growth through to the end of the decade, but only if the government achieves a smooth departure from the European Union.

The Bank of England (BoE) trimmed its forecast of growth this year to 1.9 percent from 2.0 percent, but nudged up its forecasts for 2018 and 2019 to 1.7 percent and 1.8 percent. Last year Britain's economy grew 1.8 percent.

Carney said the BoE had not made forecasts based on the scenario of a “disorderly Brexit” where Britain crashes out of the EU without an agreement on future relations.

Keurboom cold-calling firm fined record £400,000 over nuisance calls

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 11 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

More than 1,000 people complained to ICO over automated calls about road accident claims and PPI compensation

A company that made almost 100m nuisance calls in 18 months has been fined a record £400,000 by the data watchdog.

The information commissioner’s office said the automated calls by Keurboom Communications had caused “upset and distress” and led to more than 1,000 complaints.

Keurboom, registered in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, has been placed in voluntary liquidation and the ICO intends to recover the fine through liquidators and insolvency practitioners.

The ICO was unable to fine the company’s director, Gregory Rudd, but the government is set to introduce a law allowing the watchdog to fine the bosses of nuisance call firms.

The calls from Keurboom related to schemes including road traffic accident claims and PPI compensation. Some people received repeat calls, sometimes on the same day, and calls during unsociable hours. The company hid its identity, making it harder for people to complain.

Companies can make automated marketing calls to people only if they have their specific consent. Keurboom did not have consent.

Steve Eckerlsey, head of enforcement at the ICO, said: “Keurboom showed scant regard for the rules, causing upset and distress to people unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of one its 100 million calls.

“The unprecedented scale of its campaign and Keurboom’s failure to cooperate with our investigation has resulted in the largest fine issued by the information commissioner for nuisance calls.”

He added: “These calls have now stopped – as has Keurboom – but our work has not. We’ll continue to track down companies that blight people’s lives with nuisance calls, texts and emails.”

During the investigation, the ICO issued seven information notices ordering the company to provide information. When it failed to comply, Keurboom and Rudd were prosecuted and fined £1,500 and £1,000 respectively at Luton magistrates court in April 2016.

In 2016/17 the ICO fined 23 companies a total of £1.9m for nuisance marketing.

The previous record nuisance call fine was in February 2016 when the ICO fined Prodial, a lead generation company, £350,000 for making 46m nuisance calls.

In September 2016 the ICO fined TalkTalk £400,000 under the Data Protection Act for failing to prevent an attack on its systems.
By Jamie Grierson

Eurostar makes a strong start in the first quarter with Sales up 15%

 

It's been a tough couple of years for Eurostar, with a series of terror attacks in France and Belgium having hit travel, but the high speed rail service between the UK and mainland Europe has started 2017 strongly.
Sales during the first three months of the year were up 15%.
Ian King took a trip to St Pancras International station where chief executive Nicolas Petrovic told him what was behind the rebound.

Barratt to build 17,000 new homes the highest in nine years

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Wed, 10 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

Barratt is on track to build more homes this year than in any of the previous nine, boosting its profits to the high end of the City's expectations.

Shares in the UK's largest house builder rose 4pc on the news that its completion levels for the year to June are now expected to be around 17,350, which is the highest since 2008. This is a 55pc increase over the last six years.

The FTSE 100 builder said its pre-tax profits would meet the high end of City expectations, at around £733m.

It went on to say, despite data elsewhere that the market is slowing, that conditions remain “good”, with the company benefiting hugely from the Government's Help to Buy scheme, which allows first-time buyers to purchase a home with a 5pc deposit, as well as wider availability of mortgages.

David Thomas, chief executive, said he is not concerned about the future of Help to Buy, which is due to end in 2021.

Barratt sells one third of its homes using the scheme, but he said he is sure there will be a “sensible dialogue” on the issue after the election.

He added: “I maintain that if you want to build houses you have to have an effective scheme, like Help to Buy, to complement the mortgage market.”

However he emphasised the need for visibility, saying the 2021 date “is in the relatively near future. We’re buying land now that we will be trading on in four to five years.”

Barratt's forward sales rate also rose, and Mr Thomas said that the greatest challenge was not a lack of supply but instead a shortage of skilled labour and access to materials, which is pushing up build cost. He said: “That has shifted dramatically from six years ago when the challenge was on the sales side.”

Anthony Codling, an analyst at Jefferies, said: “Our view of a two speed housing market continues to be validated: whilst the second hand market continues to face headwinds, Barratt will deliver its highest number of home sales in nine years.

“We are pleased to see that Barratt has a clean bill of health with respect to leasehold issues that have hampered others.” It comes after fellow FTSE 100 house builder Taylor Wimpey had to set aside £130m to settle disputes over homes sold with “doubling” ground rents.
By Isabelle Fraser

 

Small and medium sized businesses risk losing out on billions in EU funding

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.businessinsider.com – – Wed, 10 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

LONDON – Small and medium sized businesses risk losing out on billions in European Union funding when the UK formally leaves the trading bloc in 2019.

The EU has earmarked £3.6 billion in regional development funds for UK firms until 2020, but nothing beyond 2021, according to a report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Regional development funds are EU funds meant to help correct regional imbalances across the 28-nation bloc. The funding is meant to help “support job creation, business competitiveness, economic growth, sustainable development, and improve citizens’ quality of life.”

Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said: “Small businesses across the country are staring into a business support black hole from 2021.

“This is a particularly pressing issue for the many small firms with growth ambitions and those in less economically developed regions.”

The FSB found that businesses in Yorkshire and the North East were most likely have requested EU funds and therefore the most likely to be hit once EU funding is cut off.

Cherry said: “If the next Government is serious about developing an Industrial Strategy that delivers prosperity across all areas of England, it must replace EU funding dedicated to small business support and access to finance after we leave the EU.”

Businesses of all sizes are already beginning to suffer from a Brexit-driven skills shortage. The Recruitment and Employment Confederation said on Tuesday that the number of suitable job candidates has fallen to its lowest level in 16 months.

By Ben Moshinsky

John Lewis set aside £36 million for potential wage error

 

Roberto Herrett/Flickr
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Tue, 9 May, 2016) London, UK – –

British retailer John Lewis said it has set aside 36 million pounds ($47 million) to cover possible costs as it may have breached UK wage rules, a potential embarrassment for a company lauded for the way it treats its staff.

The John Lewis Partnership, owner of the John Lewis department store chain and upmarket Waitrose supermarkets, said on Tuesday that while its contractual hourly rates of pay have never been below the national minimum wage (NMW), it plans to work with Britain's revenue and customs department to see if all its arrangements meet the specific criteria of the complex regulations.

Last year the government announced a series of increases in the minimum wage, which will make it 13 percent higher than it would otherwise have been by 2020.

The John Lewis Partnership [JLP.UL] [JLPLC.UL] is often held up in Britain as an exemplary employer. It calls its staff partners and its employee-owned business model has been praised by government.

It said it is specifically looking at its practice of “pay averaging” which aims to smooth out a partner's pay over a year to ensure a consistent amount is paid to them each month in respect of their basic pay.

“This arrangement was implemented to support partners with a steady and reliable monthly income, but we now believe this arrangement may not meet the strict timing requirements for calculating compliance with the NMW regulations,” it said.

The company said that once it has completed a review, it will make any retrospective payments required to current and former partners.

Since there is a wide range of potential outcomes it said it has made the 36 million pounds an exceptional charge in its financial year to Jan. 28 2017.

The provision was detailed in the partnership's annual report and accounts for 2016-17.

They also revealed that Chairman Charlie Mayfield has waived his bonus for 2016-17, which would have been 66,000 pounds. That decision reflected the performance of the group in the period.

Mayfield's total reward fell by 7.4 percent to 1.41 million pounds.

In March the group reported a fall in the trading profits of both Waitrose and John Lewis department stores for 2016-17. It also cut its staff bonus to 6 percent, the lowest percentage payout since 1954, saying it needed to preserve cash to brace for difficult times ahead.

In April the department store business said it would cut hundreds of jobs in a reorganization of its soft furnishings business and changes to the way it operates its in-store restaurants.

By James Davey

Facebook deletes thousands of UK accounts to tackle fake news

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 8 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

Facebook has deleted thousands of UK accounts and overhauled its news feed in an attempt to battle fake news, following vocal criticism of the internet giant’s role in the phenomenon.

The social network has been under pressure to address “false news” in recent months, following concerns about its impact on elections in the US and Europe and fears that it could undermine advertisers’ confidence in Facebook.

On Monday, Facebook will announce a new drive to tackle fake news in the UK, just a month before Brits go to the polls. It says it has introduced technology to better identify accounts that spread spam or fake news, such as detecting patterns of those that repeatedly post the same things, and deleted “tens of thousands” in response.

It will also demote suspicious articles on its website and apps so that users see them less often in the Facebook news feed. The company has been testing technology that identifies if people read an article but do not share it with their friends, suggesting it may be misleading. From Monday, it will apply the change in the UK, and run a series of adverts in newspapers with tips on how to spot “false news”.

Facebook reported a 76pc increase in profits last week, with soaring advertising revenue suggesting the fake news scandal had not dented enthusiasm. But politicians have raised the prospect of regulating or fining the company if it fails to deal with the problem.

Germany has threatened to fine social media sites up to €50m (£42m) for spreading fake news, and an inquiry had been launched into the phenomenon by the Culture, Media and Sports committee before the election was called.

“People want to see accurate information on Facebook and so do we,” the company’s UK policy director Simon Milner said. “That is why we are doing everything we can to tackle the problem of false news.”

The company has also announced partnerships with Full Fact and First Draft, non-profit fact-checking organisations, to tackle fake news in the run-up to the election.

Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg originally attempted to play down the fake news problem, saying that it made up just a fraction of what appeared on the site. But in recent months it has introduced a series of initiatives, including restricting advertising on fake news websites, giving users tips about spotting fake news, and putting alerts on disputed stories.

Fears around fake news peaked around the US election, with claims that far-right internet groups had spread lies about Hillary Clinton to influence the vote. This has led to concerns that June’s election, as well as votes in France and Germany, could be affected.

By James Titcomb

Britain’s financial sector formulate contingency plans after Brexit

 

Britain's financial sector – the City of London – is abuzz with contingency plans.

In the near future, a raft of banks are expected to announce what they will do when Britain leaves the European Union, including moving staff to places like Frankfurt and Paris.

The man whose job it is to talk up London's role as Europe's international financial centre says we should not exaggerate the numbers that will leave but admits the UK economy could suffer.